Recently, a client of mine came in for a session and just looked beat-down. I asked him what was going on and he explained that deadlines at work had caused him and his team to work long hours, miss summer vacations and weekend trips, and basically rescheduled their lives. He felt overwhelmed and stuck. There was no time to exercise or take care of his personal life. His energy was so low that by the time he did get home, he had nothing left to give to his family.
It seems most of us are having a hard time squeezing in all we want to do in the short 24 hours we get each day, myself included. There just isn’t enough time to get it all done, so we end up prioritizing and letting things slip to the back-burner while we feel a lack of accomplishment at the end of the day. This can’t be the best way to go through life, but what are the options? Let me introduce you to the idea of Stacking.
“I aspire to achieve the efficiency of a worker honeybee. A worker honeybee has one of those jobs with all-day movement packaged in. The work necessary to meet it’s personal needs for food and movement and to perform it’s particular job on behalf of its community are happening simultaneously.” – Katy Bowman
I was first introduced to the idea of Stacking when I read Katy Bowman’s book, Movement Matters. She describes, much better than I can, how we humans have lost our natural way and started to separate and segment our lives. At one point in our existence we needed to forage for food (exercise + grocery shopping), build shelters (learning + problem solving), and we usually did these things with a community or tribe (socialization + babysitting). In our modern world, all of these needed parts of our lives have been divided out, leaving us with no time to spare.
While it is unrealistic for a lot of us to start growing or foraging our food by tomorrow, we can apply the principles of Stacking to our everyday lives. In the simplest of terms, we can find a way to accomplish two things at once. I am not talking about checking your emails while you are eating breakfast. I am talking about changing your mindset so that you are actually doing less but fulfilling your needs more.
“Multi-tasking involves trying to accomplish many discrete tasks at once. Stacking your life involves the search for fewer tasks that meet multiple needs, which often requires that you’re clear on what your needs actually are.” – Katy Bowman
Assuming we already have shelter and sleeping pretty much requires that you are only sleeping, let’s look at some of our other basic daily needs:
- Family/Friend Time – Childcare, dog care, parent care, etc.
Now, I am a person that always goes for the low-hanging fruit first. I am a believer that small accomplishments are the only step-stools that will get you to the large accomplishments in life. So let’s start easy…
Let’s look at the idea of a “play-date”. It is the epitome of Stacking. Parent’s socializing, children playing. However, what if we could also do a play-date on our bikes? Or at the park? Now we have stacked socialization, childcare, and exercise in one. Now, why don’t you all bike down to the local fruit stand? OMG – Socialization, childcare, exercise, transportation, and grocery shopping all in one!
Now, I know this is not as easy as it sounds, but you will be surprised at how many options there are to Stack your life if you just start getting into the mindset. Opportunities will arise without a lot of work. Let’s go back to my client that I mentioned at the beginning…
During our session, this same client mentioned he would be traveling to California on business and he was even more overwhelmed by the idea that he would lose more time to work. I mentioned to him to look for ways he could make his day better. So, I asked him what CA had that CO does not. Easy answer – the Ocean. We decided he could rent a bike to get him from his hotel to his work each day, taking a longer way home that would go by the beach. Just the thought of getting a little play and exercise into his day, seemed to relieve some tension in his shoulders.
One little adjustment in our days can completely change our attitude. That change in attitude has an exponential effect on our perspective, our approach to our lives and our interactions with others. Bottom line, stop getting less and doing more and get more by doing less.
“Thinking differently is a process not so distinct from learning to move your arm or leg in a particular way to get a muscle to grow; your thoughts shape your choices.” – Katy Bowman